Ex chapter two
Daniel’s grandfather Jonah was a bitter man. His bitterness is all that is left of him now. It is the only legacy he had to offer.
Jonah was completely bald except for the patch of hair, which grew from a huge mole on the left side of his temple. Everyone who saw the mole thought it was shaped like a penis. No one who saw the mole ever told Jonah that it was shaped like a penis but everyone thought that it was. You couldn't help it.
Jonah had inherited a cafe when his uncle died. The roof of the cafe was very low and Jonah was a very tall man. A very tall man. He could not have the ceiling raised because the cafe was built in a railway arch and it was a condition of his Uncle's estate that he wasn't permitted to sell it.
Try as he might, Jonah was always cutting the top of his head on the ceiling and wore two plasters - one crossed over the other whenever he did so. Eventually the plasters became a permanent fixture.
A large vein ran from just below his left eye up over his skull, under the plasters which covered the cut on his head and through the mole that was shaped like a penis and when he was angry, the vein throbbed.
Jonah was an angry man.
If you met him you knew.
It was not long after Daniel’s father attempted to murder him, that his grandfather tried to murder his father. Daniel knew this because he was present at the time. It was a Sunday afternoon, they were sitting at a dining table having tea and although they were a considerable distance away from any thing that could be deemed a drowning hazard by even the most liberal construction Daniel was wearing his life vest. Jonah was in his seventies by then and he had lost some of his stature but he was still an imposing figure.
Daniel was prodding suspiciously at an egg sandwich, which had, had the crusts cut off by his mother but might, he suspected, still have been laced with some deadly bacterial agent by his father. By this time his mother had become such a peripheral figure in their lives that Daniel did not see her from week to week. One evening his brother told Daniel that their mother had left home a year before and only returned once a week to cut the crusts off their sandwiches and iron their underwear. When she stopped doing even this she faded away altogether like a painting that has been left in the sunshine for too long.
On this particular afternoon, Daniel’s father was momentarily distracted from his usual Sunday pastimes of frowning at Daniel’s life jacket, frowning at Daniel, frowning at the sandwiches his wife had castrated and relighting his pipe, by Jonah’s attempt to throttle the life out of him.
Daniel did not know what motivated Jonah to try to murder his father - Jonah died a few days later from a massive heart attack - nor for his father to try to murder him-his father would no more have confided his feelings to a bowl of cornflakes.
The whole, penis mole, murderous father, fading mother dynamic did not provide Daniel with what could be characterised as the ideal springboard into adulthood but could not explain the prodigious storm cloud of horror that hung above his head for the rest of his life. A storm cloud that rained and rained.